05-08-06, 02:46 PM #1
Non-sequitur: Mark 3.20-30And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, (V)to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, "He has lost His senses." The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons." And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man's house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"--because they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit." (Mark 3.20-30, NASB)
This is a rather famous red-letter discourse of Jesus'. I noticed, however, when reviewing the passage while refamiliarizing myself with Pagels' Origin of Satan, that Jesus' response has nothing to do with what the scribes said.
How can Satan cast out Satan? Simplistic, indeed. If the deceiver deceives, then why not deceive by having one agent pretend dominion over another? Perhaps, then, Jesus is the deceiver?
Nonetheless, we should probably applaud Jesus for turning the discussion not only on its ear, but also on the scribes. Accused of demonic influence, Jesus responds,
1. How can something cast itself out?
2. In order to plunder something capable of defending itself, one must first bind its defensive capabilities.
3. All sins are forgiven, except for one.
It is convenient enough to declare that, "To accuse me is to commit the unforgivable sin", but there is something more subtle to that. The unforgivable sin is not just in accusing demonic influence of the holy, but in the fact that such accusatons demonstrate a lack of faith in God. Consider another famous notion, "Judge not, lest ye be judged". To presume judgment is to aspire to God's authority, and as all that happens is of God's will, it would seem rather difficult, then, to accuse that a given event or action is rooted in evil. After all, as we see in the Book of Job, the "evil" that visits Job is, in fact, according to God's will; and the prophets of the Hebrew testament remind us that the "evil" befalling Israel is also God's will.
Strange, then, that televangelists should make billions a year in the U.S. at least by finding devils and demons everywhere. But what does this say to American Christians? Was 9/11 really "God's will"? Should an avowed Christian refrain from calling Osama bin Laden evil? What of the hijackers who steered the planes into the towers? Are they, like Job's tormentor, instruments of God?
Many infidels complain that "you just can't talk to a Christian". Literally, this is untrue. I've spoken to many over the years. But in its intended sense, that one cannot undertake a progressive discussion with such folk, the complaint has my abundant sympathy. But what of the Christians? They, too, might deserve our infidel sympathy. Blinded by faith, perhaps the reason so many Christians make so little sense when evangelizing, criticizing, or simply discussing, is that they have never tried to make sense out of the deceptive rhetoric of their Savior. After all, if Jesus approached issues by changing the subject and accusing, why should the Christian do otherwise?
"Follow me," said Jesus.
Christians are told to strive to walk in Jesus' footsteps.
After all, What Would Jesus Do?
My recommendation to fellow infidels is to stop being so condemning, and realize that most Christians are victims of a swindle reaching cosmic proportions.
What would Jesus do? Change the subject and sling mud.
05-08-06, 06:41 PM #2
Keep in mind, I'm a 'victimized Christian'...
What I saw in this is one thing:
Pharasees: Jesus is possessed by Satan!
Jesus: How is it possible for Satan to cast out Satan? Do not blaspheme the Lord or you shall truley perish
Now that doesnt ound like "slinging mud" but more of Jesus telling them they are committing a grave sin, and they should stop...
... but hey, thats just my take...and remember, im a Christian who cant be talked to.
05-08-06, 11:56 PM #3
Originally Posted by Provita
All Praise The Ancient Of Days
05-09-06, 12:27 AM #4
That is if you believe everything the bible says, and I sure don't. A man cannot blaspheme if he knows no God. And Jesus says, forgive them, they know not what they do. Of course, God knows this also. I say the words in the bible are tainted by the imperfections of man. The bible isn't the perfect word. No word of man is the perfect word. And it isn't to be took literally. As for Jesus being satan, I won't even tackle that one.
05-09-06, 08:47 AM #5
usp8riot your a typical smorgasbord Christian picking and choosing what you will believe from the Word of God. You have created your own religion, you are not a follower of the Messiah Jesus.
His Words are clear to all who are meek enough to hear it.
All Praise The Ancient Of Days
05-09-06, 09:11 AM #6Originally Posted by Adstar
And which denomination of Christendom should usp8riot follow, then?
Which is the TRUE religion if you want to be a "follower of the Messiah Jesus"?
Methodists (from the Anglicans)
Baptists (from the Calvinists)
Radical Low Protestantism
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers, quasi-Anabaptist)
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Community of Christ
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Messianic Judaism (Only identified as Judaism by adherents and Christian missionaries; actually Jewish-rite Christianity)
This is just the Main headings from Wikipedia, admittedly, and each of these has sub-groups.
And I'm just curious as to how much more evidence you have for what you believe than usp8riot has for what he believes?
05-09-06, 12:38 PM #7
Yes, Adstar, you're right. I do pick and choose what I want to believe. That is called religion, and why there are so many denomination of Christians and sects of other religions. Not everyone interprets biblical text the same. You can follow the herd in the fences of confinement if you like but I for one, think for myself. When I read any holy text, I think to myself, 'does this make sense?'. After all, that reasoning is what led followers to Jesus in those days. And as Jesus dared to defy the beliefs and laws of the current system of the time, so do I and others who feel what is right for the times.
I don't feel Jesus is a liar, and believe he is a son of God. I just feel sometimes he spoke too much in haste, hence the inconsistencies or contradictions in the bible. And he was only a man, and not perfect or else he would know he spoke a few contradictions and that, like I said, we all know a man who knows no God cannot blaspheme, no one can deny that. If someone curses me and doesn't know me, it doesn't bother me. Or if someone speaks ill of me and going by heresay, also doesn't bother me. They do not know me, therefore, they cannot curse me. If I, am willing to forgive and understand someone for that, surely God will, in His infinite knowledge and love. I feel Christians like that do more harm than good by spreading hate and misunderstanding. Any time you doubt what you are doing is wrong or right, think to yourself, 'will this do more harm than good?'. And if you think on it, with patience, you'll find the answer. Answers like that can take people away from God. Even now, in these days, followers of Jesus, by claiming he is perfect are left with nothing but to mock and hate others that doubt his words. In essence, you hate in the name of peace. Thereby discrediting the Lord and yourselves. Doing an injustice to yourselves and the Lord. Speak not in haste or hate, but speak out of reason. I too, can judge you if you judge me, and so can God, so be careful. I feel that is why God put me here, to help do away with the hate in His name by use of the knowledge He gave me.
But I don't blame you Adstar, it's respectable the dedication to your religion. And yes, you may interpret different than me but I know you intend good and God sees it as good. Atleast you don't resort to mocking and cursing like some of the others, religious or not.
05-09-06, 12:40 PM #8Originally Posted by Sarkus
M*W: Good question, Sarkus. Religious statistics would indicate that there are some 34,000 sects of Christianity. Which one are you, Adstar? And don't give us that bullcrap that you're not a "member" of any of them.
05-09-06, 09:38 PM #9
Originally Posted by Sarkus
Why? usp8riot gives the answer:
Yes, Adstar, you're right. I do pick and choose what I want to believe. That is called religion, and why there are so many denomination of Christians and sects of other religions.Not everyone interprets biblical text the same.
True Christians know that the Holy Spirit does the interpreting and guides them to all knowledge. They give up their own interpretations and seek Gods guidance on the Words of God. They do not attack the Word of God as being the work of men. True Christians attack religion as being the work of men, men like usp8riot.
You think that is arrogant? So be it. God will deal with the hundreds of scripture twisting liars that have dared to undermine His Word and lead others into the pit.
All Praise The Ancient Of Days
05-10-06, 12:00 AM #10
True Christians attack religion as being the work of men, men like usp8riot.
Adstar, don't tell me you believe the bible literally and word for word. Tell me in front of God if you believe it literally and word for word. That you would and do everything that is said in the bible that God wants us to do and then you can define me as a true Christian or not, and no more is said. And also define yourself. I have defined myself, whether someone can mock me or not for not believing in the perfection of man, I have said what I believe. I have no fear of the words from anyone because my God-given logic guides me to my beliefs, not what I am told to believe. God will deal with me come judgement day and may He punish me as seen fit if I have lead others to hate and hated myself, but feel I am doing as He wants of me. But as you don't jump over the fence and tread new territory for the well being of others, so will you not reap the reward of it.
I believe we should teach using peace, not mockery, insult, and force. To teach peace using hate could also work but is not best. You can teach someone the wrong way to do something and they can use that to learn the right way or you can teach someone the right way to do it and they learned the right way. Eventually they will find the wrong way to do it, that is a given, so teaching them the right way initially is best. In other words, it is best to teach peace using peace. Hate is not something that needs to be taught. You know they will eventually experience hate in their life and find out it is the wrong way so it doesn't need to be taught. Yes, they will eventually learn some peace in their life also, if not taught, you might say. But to teach is to condone, so therefore, we must teach peace and forgiveness. And I have not dared to twist the words of the bible, I feel I am authorized by God to judge what I think are His words. As we all are given that freedom.
05-10-06, 06:17 AM #11
Please clarify - are you saying there is no way Jesus' answer could be relevant to the scribes' accusation, other than "turning the table" in a deceptive kind of way? That his answer must be non-sequitur, because you can find no other way to follow Jesus' thinking?
The way it is described, these people were faced with undeniable evidence of Jesus' authority over evil (demons will not be driven out by just any authority - Acts 19:14-16), but since they would under no circumstances admit that he might be doing it with proper authority, they accused him of being in league with the devil: "Jesus the deceiver".
In the first place, what we have to do with here is not the "phenomenal evil" of a natural distaster, unfortunate affliction, or what some would call just 'bad luck', but a concrete evil, the nature and origin of which is not in question by either the afflicted or the witnesses. It's not about blasphemy per se, either. It is specifically a matter of the "authority to cast out the demons" (Mark 3:15).
Everybody who wasn't looking for ways to get Jesus out of the way could see that this was a good, honest man doing good things, bringing freedom to the afflicted and preaching grace and forgiveness. If this was the devil's deception, he would just be undoing his own work, not cleverly adding to it. After all, every exorcist or healer among the Jews and Romans hoped to do exactly the same things Jesus did here. Compare the parallel passages in Matthew 12:27-28, where Jesus' answer includes these words:
"If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges.And secondly: it was the spirit in which Jesus was acting - the same spirit by which their own people cast out demons (cf. Mark 9:38-39/Luke 9:49-50) - that was called evil ("He has an unclean spirit"), not Jesus himself. That's why he answered: "Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matt.12:32; my italics).
"But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
It is the Spirit of God that brings forgiveness and freedom in the first place, which is why calling it "evil" is self-defeating and self-condemning. It's the exception that proves the rule.
Last edited by Jenyar; 05-10-06 at 06:26 AM.
05-11-06, 01:08 PM #12
Now that doesnt ound like "slinging mud" but more of Jesus telling them they are committing a grave sin, and they should stop...
Perhaps the people of Jesus' time were so simplistic. Perhaps nobody on the planet, or at least among the Jews, had ever experienced that sort of behavior.
In this sense, Jesus presents the presumption that the people really are that stupid, and while it is entirely possible--after all, we are not they, and now is not then--it seems somewhat unlikely.
The disrespect in Jesus' answer is thorough: first he presents an argument that only bears validity if we ignore not only humanity's capacity for deception, but also the nature of Satan in the Christian experience; secondly, the change of subject implies that the accusation is not worth response, and therefore the accusers are not worth the respect of a proper response; lastly, he proclaims himself as holy and condemns all who would think him unholy.
Furthermore, this last is so broad a condemnation that it bears tremendous implications through time. To call something holy "unholy" is a grave sin, and one that a person can commit accidentally. True, God knows what is in a man's heart, or at least according to the teachings of the Christian experience, but in the end, Jesus' proclamation does not include the human capacity to learn and increase understanding. A lack of faith is a lack of faith: only God knows what is truly good and what is evil. As we see variously in the Bible, Satan is a servant of God, be it in the form of "a satan" who reprimands Balaam, the assigned tormentor of Job, or the demons cast out by Jesus during his ministry: Satan is subject to God's authority. Thus, the actions of Satan are by permission of God; the "unholy" is a matter of God's will, and therefore still holy.
What a conundrum for the Christian seeking to destroy evil; one must have faith.
05-11-06, 01:16 PM #13
The argument you put forward still allows for deception on Jesus' part. Not only is Matthew historically viewed as a revision or update of Mark, and therefore subject to a number of corrections in the name of clarity, but the synoptic comparison you put forward still allows for deception. It is merely a matter of faith.
To what does Jesus' answer pertain, then? That Matthew states explicitly what seems implicit in Mark only suggests that the author(s) of Matthew felt the need to be more direct. Is this because Jesus confused the people? Or because the development of the idea of Satan suddenly required such clarification? There are many answers to why, although modern theological and historical work by Elaine Pagels and others shows that it would be best to consider each of the Gospels in the context of their respective histories.
05-11-06, 07:12 PM #14
Hey, its completely possible Jesus was a deceptive liar controlled by Satan... its possible he IS satan... it is possible he is a demon... it is possible he is a loon... it is possible he is made up, the Son of God, some good preacher that was misunderstood, and its even possible that he was a prophet but nothing more. Anything is possible. I dont disagree with you, I just dont think he is... but thats just my opinion.
05-12-06, 03:46 AM #15
There's always opportunity for more doubt - in the end the question is whether it's reasonable doubt. In the case of Mark - at least as Mark tells it (and apart from the synoptic gospels, that's really all we have to go by) - Jesus' actions are described as being demonstrably holy, and the scribes, by going so far as to accuse Him of being aided by an evil spirit - the representative evil spirit, as far as most Jews were concerned - were grasping for straws. They were being unreasonable to a degree that approached the worst kind blasphemy: Calling proper good consummate evil (Is. 5:20).
I won't debate the priority of Mark, but there is at least the possibility that there was an earlier Hebrew gospel by Matthew, being the most "Jewish" of the gospels (Matthew's Hebrew gospel). And if we consider each of the Gospels in the context of their respective histories, as I agree we must, we must surely ask: was Mark actually trying to be comprehensive, or specific? His abrupt and peculiar ending (in the earliest documents), seems to suggest the latter. The approach must be allowed to steer you away from your interpretation as easily as towards it, if you look at it objectively.
And if Matthew contains updates on Mark, why shouldn't those updates be taken seriously? Who is in a better position to judge Jesus' words - us or him? Matthew is even further removed from painting Jesus as a deceiver than Mark. It's not enough to accuse Matthew of having an apologetic agenda in his interpretation of Mark - no more than you can be criticized for having a skeptical agenda in your interpretation of Mark. Yes, it's a matter of faith, like you say. But merely?
Last edited by Jenyar; 05-12-06 at 04:32 AM.
05-12-06, 04:07 AM #16Originally Posted by tiassa
And a PS on the figure of Satan in the New Testament. I believe that the concepts that Jesus and his disciples worked with (especially regarding demons and hell) were not invented by them - or "Christians", by extention. Like the Jewish Encyclopedia states in its article on Satan: "The high development of the demonology of the New Testament presupposes a long period of evolution."
I enjoy Pagels' work, although I've only read bits and pieces, but I hope you assign the appropriate weight to her ideas within the general (Christian and Jewish) scholarly community.
Last edited by Jenyar; 05-12-06 at 05:03 AM.
05-13-06, 04:28 AM #17
Re the PS ... you should give a read through Pagels' Origin of Satan. There is an entire chapter devoted to the "Social History of Satan", which has been a developing theme in her research. I think the book chapter is possibly the third incarnation of the discussion (she cites an earlier journal publication that appears to be different from an article I came across in college).
One of the things that strikes me when something seems amiss is that the issue can manifest itself variously through history. I believe you've been witness to my criticisms of Tertullian, possibly even when I compared modern right-wing radio hosts to early Christian evangelists. This is another one of those things; Jesus' response to the Scribes in Mark 3.20-30 is stylistically familiar. I've encountered it much in my own time; to ask, "What would Jesus do?" is only halfway sarcastic. There are plenty of incoherent folks who appear to be doing exactly as Jesus did: change the subject, boast, and then condemn.
Additionally, whether or not to extend the quirky consideration of the dangers of condemning anything as unholy may be unfair. At least, it certainly is unfair if we limit the interpretation of Jesus' words to the exact incident recounted in Mark.
As to the significance of Matthew's updating of Mark, I can only point you back to Pagels as a good starting point. The historical correlations are sometimes breathtaking and, I'm sure some would find them damning.
Let's pretend, or believe, such as you would prefer, that once upon a time there actually was a guy named Jesus who attracted crowds and who existed in history as something more substantial than a rumor in Josephus. Let's say he was, indeed, the Son of God, or at least stumbled onto something correct and proper and holy.
If he's all that, shouldn't we at least try to understand it? Mere faith? Well, I suppose we should define what faith is. Myself, I consider the people with those silly fish symbols on their car or business card hypocrites in the sense that they announce their faith for all to see or hear. They are at least an embodiment of the "proclaimed Christian" who hasn't made the proper leap of faith. Just like the "accusing Christian" who doesn't trust God to know right from wrong and act accordingly.
How can you fight evil when it is, according to God, dangerous to do so?
And yet we wonder about those Christians who inspire the most vile complaints, the judging, condemning, hyperactive, oversensitive freaks who turn Christian propaganda and psychospiritual terrorism into a multibillion dollar industry, who see following the law as a usurpation of democracy, who generally make it so difficult for your infidel neighbors to respect your faith? You know, that massive body of self-righteous, confused people who depict Christianity as a lunatic asylum with political authority?
And I always wonder about how the faithful read Job. Your description of the story sounds much more like the traditional summary I hear from the faithful, and less like what's actually written in the Bible.
Nonetheless, the greater point would be that if Job were to condemn Satan, Job would have condemned God's will.
05-15-06, 07:15 AM #18Originally Posted by tiassa
About the other points you mention, I believe we might actually see eye to eye on most of them. If you can recognize hypocrisy and exploitation, so can I. But the damage is equally done when actual good is denied, as when it is religiously perverted. The danger is not so much in fighting evil (since God guarantees victory), but that one stares so long into the abyss that one develops an affinity for it.
Last edited by Jenyar; 05-15-06 at 07:25 AM.
05-15-06, 07:29 AM #19Originally Posted by tiassa
A last thing: Jesus' answer in Mark isn't a change of subject, and perhaps Mark makes that more clear than any other gospel. Jesus does more than answer the allegation against him (likely made in ignorance) - he actually explains why it can't be true: "if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come" (v.26). Isn't it possible that Jesus' insight into the spiritual world here bears more weight than your speculation about demons posing as bona fide exorcists to fool the simple folk?
Last edited by Jenyar; 05-15-06 at 08:13 AM.
05-15-06, 09:22 AM #20
Hmm.. pardon if this is not quite on topic, but it seems that the whole "free will" thing is rather confused by the notion that "everything is god's will". "judge not lest ye be judged" is predicated by the latter, while "free will" presumes the subject of judgement may have chosen against "god's will". One is "free to judge" then, if they are "of the faith". I can judge the piss out of you if I'm absolutely lacking fear of judgement and if I'm doing "god's work", I couldn't possibly fear judgement. I see now perhaps, where folks like adstar, the visitor and those of similar ilk might seem to get off. Blessed be the righteous? Just ask them.
Either way, I think it IS generally wise not to hate the religious based on the fact that they are.
"Jesus" was at least a hypothetical person, and people tend to change the subject and sling mud when faced with threatening social circumstances rather than deal with issues head-on. It's the easy choice that both reasserts their "authority" on whatever it is they're discussing, and allows them freedom from burden of explanation.
It's just what people do, christian or no.
Last edited by wesmorris; 05-15-06 at 03:26 PM.